Now that every team in the Big 12 has played half of their conference schedule, this would seem to be the perfect time to step back and take a look at what we've learned to date, prognosticate about what will happen going forward, and provide some good old-fashioned click bait by handing out some mid-season hardware.
Big 12 Storylines
All Hail Our Kansas Overlords - That's right. As painful as it is to admit, this is KU's league and the rest of us are just living in it. The Jayhawks have just one loss on the ledger and while Iowa State, West Virginia and Oklahoma will likely put up a fight until the end, it's tough to envision Kansas losing its grip on its stranglehold for the league title. Bill Self will have to earn that 11th-straight regular season title though, as Kansas still has tricky road tests remaining against Oklahoma State, Kansas State, West Virginia and Oklahoma. And hell, there's even a roadie in Lubbock mixed in there, which could prove to be a tough spot as well.
- Texas, What Happened To Ye? - Once thought to be a potential Final Four outfit, the Longhorns have proven to be decidedly average of late and at 3-5 in conference play, are nowhere near where they had hoped to be coming into the season. It's getting close to do-or-die time for Rick Barnes' crew as Texas has a stretch starting February 17th at Oklahoma where it will face five straight ranked teams (at Oklahoma, Iowa State, at West Virginia, at Kansas, Baylor). Yikes.
Best or Deepest League in the Country...or Both? - The Big 12 has been lauded as the deepest league in the country for most of the year and some even feel that it's the best overall conference as well. Nine of the ten teams in the league have been ranked at some point this year, six teams are currently ranked and as many as eight teams are still in play for an NCAA tournament bid. Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Baylor all look like safe bets at this point and provided Texas doesn't completely implode, they should be dancing as well. Oklahoma State and Kansas State are the only true bubble teams in the league. The Cowboys have a little better resume on paper and don't have the bad losses that the Wildcats do, but K-State is 5-4 in conference play and has a real chance to score some huge wins down the stretch.
Predictions Going Forward
- Kansas will win at least a share of its 11th-straight conference title. The Jayhawks will finish 14-4 with losses still to come at Kansas State, at West Virginia and at Oklahoma.
- The Big 12 will get seven bids in the NCAA tournament. Kansas State will be among the first four teams left out, though with 7 of their last 8 games against ranked teams, they'll give the committee a few compelling reasons to include them in the field, but it won't be enough.
- The seeds for the NCAA Tournament will be as follows: Kansas (2), Iowa State (4), West Virginia (5), Oklahoma (5), Baylor (6), Texas (8) and Oklahoma State (11).
- Rick Barnes will not be fired, nor will he step down. Same goes for Travis Ford.
- Bob Huggins will win the Coach of the Year award.
- Every West Virginia game will run long and opposing fan bases around the conference will continue to loathe the Mountaineers for their *ahem* aggressive *ahem* playing style that causes their games to run 20 minutes longer than they need to.
Buddy Hield win win the conference's Player of the Year award. He'll also be the unofficial winner of the league's most giant teeth award.
- No Big 12 teams will make the Final Four
First Team All-Conference
F Georges Niang - Iowa State
G Buddy Hield - Oklahoma
G Juwan Staten - West Virginia
G Monte Morris - Iowa State
G Frank Mason III - Kansas
Second Team All-Conference
F Devin Williams - West Virginia
G Phil Forte - Oklahoma State
G Kenny Chery - Baylor
F Perry Ellis - Kansas
F Rico Gathers - Baylor
Coach of the Year
Bob Huggins - West Virginia
Player of the Year
Buddy Hield - Oklahoma
Freshman of the Year
Myles Turner - Texas (though Kelly Oubre Jr. is gaining on him)
Newcomer of the Year
Tied - Bryce Dejean-Jones, Iowa State and Tashawn Thomas from Oklahoma (with a shout out to Anthony Hickey from Oklahoma State as well)